Uruguay Senate gives green light for same-sex marriage

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Senate in Uruguay voted 23–8 on Tuesday to legalise same-sex marriage following approval from the country's lower house in December. The proposed law will need to go back to the lower house for consideration of amendments. Jose Mujica, the country's president, has said that he will sign it.

Rafael Michelini, a senator that supports the legal change, described passing same-sex marriage legislation as a matter of liberty and justice: "Liberty because the state should not meddle in who you should marry; of justice because if you marry abroad with someone of the same sex and later return to Uruguay, your marriage should be recognised."

As well as legalising marriage for same-sex partners, the bill sets a minimum age for marriage at 16 which will apply to both same-sex and heterosexual marriages. This represents a change from the current law where the minimum age for boys to get married is 14, while the minimum age for girls to get married is 12. In addition, the legislation will also change the rules on in-vitro fertilisation and adoption.

Uruguay already has civil union legislation, legal same-sex adoption and allows gay people to serve openly in the military. The introduction of same-sex marriage in Uruguay is opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, but the influence of the Church in Uruguay is limited.